Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

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February 6 marks the United Nations International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation.  It is believed that more than 200 million women and girls have been the victims of female genital mutilation and another 68 million are at risk in the next decade.

Female genital mutilation is the practice of altering the female genitalia for multiple purposes including child marriage, limiting sexual urges, reducing promiscuity and holding status in some communities. This is often carried out on young girls, some as young as five-years-old. The results include severe bleeding, cysts, infections, infertility as well as childbirth complications, and increased risk of newborn deaths.

Although female genital mutilation is internationally recognized as a violation of human rights and discrimination, it occurs in most countries around the world.

“With the health and safety of girls and women in mind, we should be doing more to support the zero tolerance initiative,” said Dianne Clarabut, Chair of the OPSEU/SEFPO Provincial Women’s Committee (PWC). “Female genital mutilation is deemed illegal yet it is still practice at an alarming rate.”

Female genital mutilation exemplifies entrenched inequalities between sexes and violates rights to health, security, physical integrity, and the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman treatment.

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says it’s important for everyone to speak out against this inhuman practice.

“If all that is heard are voices against the practice of female genital mutilation, the world will have no choice but to take notice and, more importantly, take action,” said Thomas.

Many countries are fighting to change the practice of female genital mutilation. In Ethiopia groups of fathers are working together to protect their daughters from the practice and are educating their communities to do likewise.

OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida strongly believes that this oppression can’t be tolerated.

“With a united front, we can help defeat these and other acts of misogyny,” said Almeida. “We must not allow gender-based violence to continue unchallenged.”

For more information on female genital mutilation, please visit the following links:

World Health Organization 


United Nations: